Proactive foreign policy : Modi, Jaishankar embarking on high-level diplomacy with strategic partners and neighbors

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Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi. Photo: Twitter @narendramodi
India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankark. Photo: Twitter @DrSJaishankar

With the global order in a state of flux following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will be resuming high-level diplomacy with friends and neighbors, with Modi traveling this month to Europe, in what is seen as a significant outreach, followed by a Quad meeting in Japan, and the latter to India’s closest partners in South Asia, Bangladesh and Bhutan.

Modi will pay an official visit to Germany, Denmark and France from 2-4 May. This will be his first visit abroad this year.

On the first leg of his visit to Berlin, Modi will hold bilateral talks with the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The two leaders will co-chair the sixth edition of the India-Germany Inter-Governmental Consultations. The biennial IGC is a unique dialogue format that also sees participation of several ministers from both sides.

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This will be Modi’s first IGC with Scholz, and also the first such government-to-government consultations of the new German government which assumed office in December last year. During the visit, Modi and Scholz would also jointly address a business event as India seeks to attract more German investment, which has so far largely been China-bound, to India.

Modi will next visit Copenhagen at the invitation of Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. He will also participate in the 2nd India-Nordic Summit being hosted by Denmark where Modi will also interact with other Nordic leaders which include Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of Norway, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and Prime Minister Sanna Marin of Finland.

The summit will focus on subjects like post-pandemic economic recovery, climate change, innovation and technology, renewable energy, the evolving global security scenario and India-Nordic cooperation in the Arctic region. The 1st India-Nordic Summit took place in 2018 in Stockholm.

On the last leg of the tour, Modi will briefly stop over in Paris and meet President of France Emmanuel Macron who got re-elected for a record second term, the first sitting president in 20 years to be re-elected. India and France are celebrating 75 years of their diplomatic relations this year and the meeting between the two leaders will set a more ambitious agenda for their strategic partnership, officials stated.

The outreach to Europe follows on the heels of the visit to New Delhi by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week when she held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Modi. The European Union and India have resolved to strengthen their partnership and deepen bilateral cooperation with a focus on upholding the rules-based global order, supporting economic recovery, fighting climate change and charting the digital transition, the European Commission said.

The two agreed to establish a joint Trade and Technology Council to tackle key trade, economic and technology challenges, and advance cooperation in these areas. They also agreed to resume negotiations for an EU-India Free Trade Agreement and to start talks on an Investment Protection Agreement

From left, PM Yoshihide Suga of Japan, PM Narendra Modi, President Biden, and Australian PM Scott Morrison pose for a photo before the Quad meeting Sept. 24, 2021. Photo Twitter PMOIndia

Modi will then travel to Tokyo in the third week of May for the Quad summit during which he will meet with US President Joe Biden – the first time since Ukraine crisis – though they have had a virtual meeting earlier this month ahead of the two countries’ 2+2 ministerial dialogue.

Modi will also have meetings two other strategic partners – Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who had visited India earlier this month.

Meanwhile. Jaishankar embarked on a three-day visit to Bangladesh and Bhutan Thursday. In Dhaka he will hold talks with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Jaishankar’s Bangladesh visit may be seen in the context of frequent bilateral high-level visits and exchanges particularly as both sides expand ties and connectivity and commemorate 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations. His last visit to Bangladesh was in March 2021.

Jaishankar will be Bhutan’s first high-level visitor from abroad since March 2020, when the pandemic broke, reflecting the great importance both countries attach to this bilateral relationship. During the visit, he will meet King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, Prime Minister Lyonchhen Lotay Tshering, awhile having extensive talks with his counterpart Lyonpo Tandi Dorji.

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